By: M.R. Lalu
Disengaging from all ambiguities, Congress veteran A.K .Antony has come out with a realistic narrative that most of the members in his political enterprise must have personally marked their disagreement for. Antony, in a party event candidly expressed his view on his party’s minority appeasement. According to him, the appeasement politics that the Congress has been infamous for has indubitably helped the Modi juggernaut to become a reality. This appeasement, he continued, had caused a huge rift to happen between the Congress and the majority, the Hindus in India. And this fissure, according to him, was the space the BJP with all its political intelligentsia intruded into and flavoured and filled and captured with its celebrated Hindu nationalism. The saffron brigade menacingly ensured the ouster of the Congress from India’s electoral spectrum turning it into a ramshackle of hope. Today, Antony is the Buddha in Congress whose political wisdom though late cautioned the party for unjustifiably taking the minority alone in its caravan.
Does this cautioning bring any civilisational change in Congress? The party has often been blamed by its right-wing opposition for being a party with minority appeasement in its DNA. Not only the Congress but regional parties and parties with national reach also inexcusably jump into spreading the marzipan of appeasement for the collective vote bank of the minority communities. Inheriting most of the divide and rule policy of the British, the Congress, since the days of Nehru has been echoing this style of political propitiation. Nehru had the least acceptance for the Somnath rejuvenation which he counted as Hindu revivalism. When ‘Uniform Civil Code’ was proposed by veterans in his party, Nehru stressed upon the political compartmentalisation of religions in the country which later defined the Muslims a particularly protected class. Stretching the appeasement further, Indira Gandhi’s regime brought the Muslim Personal Law Board into existence. Illegitimately supporting Muslim infiltration from the neighbouring Bangladesh to Assam and West Bengal was another step the Congress calibrated for electoral advantage. Both states since then were pushed into a dangerous demographic trend and the area has become a hotbed of Islamic radicalization.
Though Congress began the appeasement politics, other political parties such as Trinamool Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Aam Aadmi Party diligently followed the suit. Modi’s entry into the national politics could mostly demystify the narratives of appeasement by the Congress and to a large extent he remodelled the political interventionism that remained a custom in India. That minority appeasement alone would bring electoral dividends and majority, a divided house could be easily silenced as it never became a vote bank. Indeed, secularism has never been an idea that India ideally incorporated in its core political practice. Parties post independence, maybe the BJP an exception, were seen competing to make inroads into minority vote banks and the political gimmicks have gone to the extent of the country’s Prime Minister in the UPA regime batting for the Muslims to have the first right to exercise the claim on the country’s resources.
A particular community to be rated as the vote ki mandi ka maal (vote banks) was a revered approach of the ruling elite in India. Modi’s stormy initiatives exposing the Congress’ double standard during his election campaign in 2014 went deeper into the conscience of the Hindus and the rattling among the electorate was seen in the results of the general elections. Modi began to dismantle the conventionalism existed in Indian politics one by one. All his schemes were elucidatory on his balancing act among the communities. Not only did he balance but also valiantly struck hard on the hypocritical male dominance existing in the Muslim community by abolishing the Triple Talaq. This move could have serious implications if the government did not enjoy complete majority. Parties are now pressured to find alternatives to the Muslim appeasement to strike a balance between the Hindus and Muslims. Irrespective of the minority emotions simmering against its political agenda and the Muslim orthodoxy’s unequivocal opposition to debate the Uniform Civil Code, the BJP in its states began initiative processes.
The success of BJP is seen as counterproductive to the implementation of minority appeasement by other parties and the entry of the Modi era seamlessly proved the power of the majority vote bank that the party excavated from the half buried Hindu consciousness. Antony, while speaking at the 137th foundational day of the Congress at Thiruvananthapuram had proclaimed that the minority alone would not bring the party to power. “Along with the minority we should bring the flock of majority with us in the fight against Modi”, he said. Running from temple to temple Rahul Gandhi, affirming his brahminical identity was playing the same card that A.K. Antony avowed in the party conclave. Rahul Gandhi’s high visibility halts at Hindu shrines were to sensitise the Hindu sentiments to its side playing parallels with the BJP’s Hindutva card. Political pundits would see this as an attempt of the Congress to change the recipe that it usually ran its political restaurants for decades, a new pattern to garnish its outdated cuisines to an unconvinced clan of people that intellectually stayed away from the Congress’ double standard.
The party with its irritable insensitivity questioned the existence of Lord Ram in India where maximum of its populace adores and idealises him to be the supreme. Modi has practically cemented the burrows through which the Congress would thrust its soft Hindutva magic wand. Revamping Hindu heritage sites by strengthening their sanctity was one of the most noticeable things that Modi accomplished. His saffron clad appearance with sandal paste on his forehead and genuine devotion superimpose the clandestine intentions of the Congress and other parties. The Hindu Terror narrative concocted by the Congress months after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack was an outcome of its deep-rooted enmity for the majority. Congress leader Digvijay Singh along with filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt launched a book “26/11: RSS ki Sazish” The book was authored by Aziz Burney, Editor- in- Chief of Urdu Sahara newspaper. Antony’s lamentations and the temple visits by Rahul Gandhi would further enable the BJP’s saffron camps to sharpen their weapons to extract the Congress double standard. The Ram Temple inauguration before the 2024 general elections would be the best weapon the BJP can use to dig out the Congress hypocrisy. Modi has a garden of success to see his butterflies of political vision flutter and dance around. But for the Congress, the Hindu majority is again going to be a tough nut.
(The author is a Freelance Journalist/Author of “India @ 75- A Contemporary Approach”)
Minority Appeasement and Majority’s Mistrust
By: M.R. Lalu